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Politicizing Motorcycles: racialized capital of technology, techno-Orientalism and Japanese temporality

Miyake, Esperanza (2016) Politicizing Motorcycles: racialized capital of technology, techno-Orientalism and Japanese temporality. East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, 2 (2). pp. 209-224. ISSN 2051-7084

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Abstract

This article politicizes the racialization of motorcycles and critically examines the representation and material consumption of Japanese raciality and technology through motorcyclic discourses. First, referring to online discourses surrounding Harley-Davidson and Japanese motorcycles, I argue that these essentialize and racialize motorcycles, which in turn, through their material consumption, become a technology for classifying, racializing and organizing sociocultural systems of western cultural hegemony. I suggest the term racialized capital of technology as a way of examining and politicizing the ideological-material intersection of racialized technology. Second, through an analysis of Honda’s contemporary advertising discourse (United Kingdom, United States, Japan, World websites), I focus further on the racialization of technology by exploring the ways in which Japan is temporalized through technology. I re-think techno-Orientalist ideas on the future and technology as being ‘Japanized’ and, instead, explore the Japanization of the past through technology, or the historicization of Japanese technology. I argue that Honda’s dual connectivity to the past and the future marks a destabilization of techno-Orientalist discourses of Japan and technology, providing a counter-narrative against western cultural hegemony. However, I am also critical of such discourses and consider some of the historical and ontological tensions surrounding the representation of Japan and technology, relating these to Japanese temporal imperialism and capitalism.

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